TULSA - Tulsa has begun the process of upgrading its tornado siren system, with twenty new sirens already installed, twenty in progress, and twenty more coming in the near future.
They replace older sirens, which were last upgraded in 1985 according to Roger Jolliff, Director of the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency.
"The new sirens will be omnidirectional, meaning the siren goes in all directions at one time. The siren does not have to rotate, so it's much more efficient. It also emits a louder tone," Jolliff tells KRMG. That increases the range about 20 percent over the older models, which were audible for about a mile.
He says each siren costs between $26,000 and $27,000 to install.
The city has also added two new sirens, one at W. 71st St. and S. Elwood Ave., and one at W. 81st St. and S. Union Ave. to cover the rapidly-growing business and residential area known as Tulsa Hills.
TAEMA hopes to add another siren next year near E. 41st St. and 177th E. Ave., another area that has seen a lot of growth.
That installation will depend on the budget.
Jolliff stresses that tornado sirens are designed primarily as a warning system for people who are outdoors.
"We get calls periodically from people that say they can not hear the sirens inside their house. Well it's only designed to be heard outdoors. You should think of the siren system as a last-ditch effort of warning when a tornado is approaching."
He says Tulsa's tornadoes have built-in batteries which keep them operational -- at least for a while -- in the event of a power outage.
The city utilizes three different tones: One for tornadoes, one for floods or chemical releases, and one for nuclear attack.